How We Shop in Haiti

Many of you may have heard that we were recently robbed of 2 weeks worth of food and supply money while shopping last month (read yesterday’s blog if missed it).  It occurred to us that most of you probably don’t realize all that goes into getting food and supplies for our kids and also who benefits from it.

First of all do you know we feed all employees that are working at the time of any meal? This includes tutors, house moms, security guards, and cooks which is roughly 40 people per day.  For many of these employees they would not have a meal that day if it weren’t for the meal All Things New is providing for them.

Second, do you know we feed more kids than just the 21 who live with us? We have 8 more kids we feed 2 meals to on a daily basis.  This means breakfast and dinner and they get a lunch at school (which is sometimes provided and sometimes we pay for – $1 per child).

Third, do you know how uncommon it is in Haiti for someone to eat 3 meals a day? Many are doing well if they get 1 meal a day.

I wanted to share all of that so that you understand 2 weeks of supply and food money being stolen is a huge deal for our kids and our employees.  It is a major set back and affects many.

So here’s how we shop.  And when I say “we” I in no way mean me and Matt.  We do not step foot into the market to buy food for the kids.  The minute we do, the price automatically goes up because we are Americans.  For many years, we have been paying Carline to shop in the market for us every 15 days.  It starts with Violene (our administrator) planning a menu with Marjorie (our cook) and then making a shopping list for Carline.  The list includes everything from chicken to coconut to toilet paper.  They put a price beside each item and bring the list to me.  I go over it then give money to Lener (our driver) to give to Carline.  They then head into the market in our old black truck.  When I say market I hope you are not picturing Publix or for that matter even an outdoor farmer’s market you’ve been to.  This is a large outdoor market that is truly hard to describe unless you’ve actually been to it.  It is crowded, hot, usually muddy, and always smoky due to people burning trash.  Carline first has to exchange the money from American dollars to gourdes.  Then she starts shopping.  Every purchase you make in the market is bought by bartering.  There is not a fixed price.  All of you moms reading this who shop for your family, imagine doing it for 2 weeks at a time for around 40 people in this market.  Not an easy task! Carline pays a couple of men to carry things to the truck where Lener then stands guard so that nothing is stolen while Carline continues to shop.  On a typical shopping day, this takes around 5 hours to complete.  Once they have gotten everything off the list (and they can’t always find everything) they return home and unload it into our food depot.  Lener brings me receipts and change.

Recent events have caused us to reevaluate our market shopping system.  We have met with Carline who has let us know she no longer feels safe shopping for us (she was robbed again the following week when she was just doing her own personal shopping).  We have been shopping once a week so it is less cash to go into the market and for now it seems to be working.  Lener is doing it and on Monday some of our older boys who didn’t have school went with him to help.  This robbery was definitely a wake up call for us but the truth is there is not much more we could do differently.  We are trying to feed a lot of people on a daily basis and only have 1 place to purchase the food and supplies and only 1 method of paying for it.  Please continue to pray for All Things New that God would give us wisdom in everything we do here.

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